WASHINGTON, DC - Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) today spoke on the House Floor in favor of the Joint Funding Resolution that will keep the federal government running through Fiscal Year 2007. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
"Mr. Speaker, today, I first want to thank and commend our new Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, the gentleman from Wisconsin, Mr. Obey, for his hard work, fairness and vision in completing this Joint Funding Resolution and allowing us to bring this measure to the Floor today.
"In short, this Resolution will ensure that the federal government remains open and continues to provide services to the American people for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2007. This measure generally funds our government at Fiscal 2006 levels, adjusted to maintain the basic operations of government and address a limited number of priority areas. It adheres to the spending limit in the Republican budget passed last year.
"And, it is free of earmarks. In fact, this Joint Funding Resolution explicitly eliminates earmarks to honor our commitment to putting a moratorium on earmarking until a reformed process is in place.
"Furthermore, this measure provides additional funding for critical needs. For example, veterans' health care would receive an additional $3.6 billion above the Fiscal 2006 level. The FBI would receive funding to double the number of intelligence analysts since 9/11. Funding for Pell Grants would be increased by more than $615 million, allowing us to increase the maximum Grant by $260 to $4,310 - the first such increase in four years. And, funding would be increased for Head Start, the National Institutes of Health, and the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.
"Let me add, too, that this measure is vastly superior to a traditional Continuing Resolution, which would fund all government programs at Fiscal 2006 levels and shortchange health care for our military and veterans and require furloughs that would jeopardize our national security and safety.
"Now, no one claims that this Joint Funding Resolution is perfect, as Mr. Obey has stated. But let us give credit where credit is due: Mr. Obey and the new Democratic Majorities have made the tough choices that the Republican Majorities refused to make in the last Congress.
"The Republicans' abdication of their responsibility last year - in failing to enact 9 of the 11 appropriations bills - is the reason we are here. Today, four months into Fiscal 2007, we are cleaning up the Republican Party's budget mess - the worst budget mess since Republicans shut the federal government down in 1996. And so, our colleagues' complaints today about this measure and this process ring absolutely hollow.
"Mr. Speaker, even the Administration's Office of Management and Budget has reportedly expressed its support for this measure.
"Finally, let me say to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who pushed their own leadership to increase funding for health and education programs - vote for this measure! Funding for many of these critical programs has been increased, as you requested. We, in fact, have delivered on a promise that your leadership was unable to keep.
"And thus, I urge you - and every Member of this body - to vote for this Joint Funding Resolution. Let us put last year's business behind us. Let us move forward, together, in a new direction for the American people."